Home Arts & Culture Sunday Funday at Hangout Fest 2024

Sunday Funday at Hangout Fest 2024

In my experience, there’s this thing about Sunday afternoons on the Gulf Coast, an unwritten rule. Sunday afternoons are best spent barefoot on the beach listening to live music against an orange and pink cotton candy sky. It’s how we define a Sunday Funday. Last Sunday, Hangout Fest took my unwritten rule, doubled down and raised me with a dance party and flood of nostalgic memories.


As a millennial from St. Louis, Missouri, I have never felt more seen than I did from the genre-spanning lineup on Sunday. From All Time Low and Nelly to Renee Rapp and Zach Bryan, there was music there for everyone, including every version of myself at various stages in my life.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m an emo kid at heart and the All Time Low set took me back to the days of black eyeliner, band t-shirts from Hot Topic, angsty emotions and tons of fun. I spent the first part of my Sunday afternoon tapping into my emotional side with songs like Dear Maria, Weightless and Monsters. Did I mention the members of All Time Low were in the VIP pool at the start of their set? Yep, just like the rebellious teens we all once were. Here I am with Alex Gaskarth — Highschool Elli is reeling inside!

In the words of Nelly, I’m from the Lou and I’m proud. Being from St. Louis, Missouri, there isn’t a Nelly song that comes on that I don’t know the lyrics to. And while a 50% of that comes from his internationally famous hits like Country Grammar and Dilemma, the other part is because it’s illegal to not like Nelly and be from St. Louis (another one of those unwritten rules we talked about earlier).

My legs are still sore from the dance party Nelly started for the thousands of fans rocking and rapping to every bop they didn’t realize they knew every lyric to.

It takes a special type of artist to take you from dropping it low to teary eyed and emotional, but that is just what Nelly did. Try going from E.I., Air Force Ones and Hot in Here to Just a Dream and Dilemma — it’s an emotional rollercoaster that I want to ride over and over again.

After some food and hydration, my ears lead me to the next artist that wasn’t blast from my past, but she definitely will go down in pop-star history — rising star and power-house vocalist Renee Rapp. I am most familiar with her trending Instragram song Pretty Girls and her role as Regina George in the Tony-nominated “Mean Girls” musical on Broadway, but after seeing her perform live I can fully call myself a fan girl. Rapp weaves emotionally powerful lyrics with a classic pop sound, and as if that’s not enough, her vocals are next level.

Her voice is perfect for showtunes, but simultaneously the perfect pitch for the powerful pop ballads my generation group up loving. Her unique capability to be vulnerable while still making songs easy to sing along to will be her recipe for success. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, here is your sign to.

After time-warping back to my emo, rap, and pop-star phases, it was time to circle back to present day Elli which has a growing appreciation and admiration for country music and, more importantly, Zach Bryan.

I won’t claim to be an OG fan of Zach Bryan, as my obsession began more recently during his latest album drop, but you didn’t need to be a super fan to enjoy the closing show he put on at Hangout Fest. His talent as a singer and songwriter shined while he kept it real with his gritty sound, a touch of soul and no shortage of twang. It’s his ability to give you a sense of intimacy and authenticity even though you’re amongst thousands of people — that’s what makes him special. And that is what keeps people running to the box office every time his tour dates are announced.

Bryan played over an hour of raw poetry and Americana which included a fair mix of old songs and new songs including: Godspeed, The Great American Bar Scene, and I Remember Everything. He made sure to rock the crowd and leave everyone at Hangout on a high note with his encore of Revival and a firework finish. THAT is how you finish out a festival!

My first Hangout Fest was one for the books and I have to pause for a moment to give praise to all the organizers, event staff, media personnel, vendors and every person who helped organize this event. They take our beautiful white sand beaches and turn them into a live music fantasy land while letting the allure or our picture perfect shores speak for themselves. Well done and thank you for enough memories to last me until next year.